Jesuit priest Fr Alexis Prem Kumar from southern India’s Tamil Nadu state, was visiting a school for returnee refugees run by the Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) in a settlement some 35km from Herat, in western Afghanistan. The 47-year old Jesuit was about to return to Herat when he was abducted at gunpoint into a vehicle by a group of armed men on June 2, 2014, and was sped off. After over 8 months of captivity, the priest was released on Feb. 22. Though he lost 12 kilos, he says he is keeping fine. The JRS is immensely grateful to the Indian government for its role in achieving Fr. Prem Kumar’s release. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said he was "delighted at securing" the priest's release.
JRS has been working in Afghanistan since 2005. Even during the difficult months of Fr Prem's captivity, JRS continued to run its programmes in the country in order to ensure that Afghan students had continued access to quality education. Before moving to Afghanistan in 2011, Fr. Prem Kumar had worked for JRS, serving Sri Lankan refugees living in Tamil Nadu. At the time of his kidnapping, he was the JRS Afghanistan Director. To know more about him, Vatican Radio contacted Fr. Prem Kumar on the phone in his home town in Tamil Nadu. The Jesuit priest first described the way he was kidnapped on June 2, last year.